Limpopo crocodile farmer William Molekoa has benefited from efforts by the department of economic development, trade and industry to transform the aquaculture sector in South Africa. PHOTO: Supplied by the department

JOHANNESBURG - The department of economic development, trade and industry on Monday held up a thriving Limpopo crocodile farmer as a shining example of its efforts to transform the aquaculture sector in South Africa.

William Molekoa, whose Mookgophong-based company Crocodile Farming received R1.8 million from the department's Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme (ADEP), is believed to be Limpopo's only black crocodile farmer and one of a few in the country.

ADEP aims to stimulate investment in the sector by developing emerging agriculture farmers, increasing production, creating job opportunities and promoting the industry's geographical spread.

Since ADEP's launch in 2013, 104 projects have received about R2 billion, leading to more than 2 000 jobs being created and sustained to date. Of these, 23 were black-owned.

"Molekoa and the more than a thousand crocodiles basking lazily in the winter sun next to his dams, bear testimony to the small but significantly positive steps that the (department) has taken to change the face of the lucrative crocodile sector in South Africa," it said on Monday.

"The fact that crocodile skins and meat from a black-owned enterprise located in an obscure ... farm in Limpopo are exported to China, Japan and Italy, is by no means a small accomplishment."

Molekoa, aged 66, attributed his success to support from the department and established crocodile farmers in Limpopo such as his mentor Albert Pretorius.

"I also owe my allegiance to numerous neighbouring white farmers who did not only support my application to practise crocodile farming ... but also contributed their labour, expertise and material when we built the crocodile dams," he said.

"With that kind of selflessness and positive attitude of other farmers and assistance from government, economic transformation in white-dominated industries such as aquaculture will be a success."

Molekoa begins the production cycle by buying eggs from other commercial farmers and using their facilities to hatch them, before taking the baby crocodiles to hot rooms. At a year old, he feeds them at the dams until they are old enough for slaughter to harvest their meat and skins for export.

Last year Molekoa undertook a trip sponsored by the trade and industry department to search for new markets in China.

- African News Agency (ANA)